Murray, Taylor lead Staples girls lacrosse past Warde
Updated 10:49 am, Thursday, April 30, 2015
Staples girls lacrosse coach Pete Najarian conceded his group looked past Tuesday's opponent Fairfield Warde in last season's meeting between the two teams -- a 9-6 Mustangs win.
Not only did the Wreckers not make the same mistake twice, but they put their collective feet down and delivered arguably their best performance of the season.
"This was a game last year we looked past," Najarian said. "We felt all year that we let one get away last year. We wanted to come back and make up for that this year."
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While Staples (6-2) fired plenty of goals in the win, its defense stole the show. Led by All-American Amelia Heisler and Jackie Ortega, the Wreckers allowed just one goal in the final 45 minutes of the contest.
"We're growing together as a defense," said Heisler, who forced turnovers on consecutive Warde possessions in the second half. "Our slides were really fast today which we've been working on, as well as constant communication."
Amanda Orvis and Meredith Nerreau scored goals early in the first half to give Warde (4-3) a 2-0 lead, and most of the first half was a back-and-forth affair. Colleen Bannon and Abby Najarian scored goals for the Wreckers to even the game midway through the first half, and Murray scored the first of her goals with four minutes left to put Staples up for good.
Staples blew the game open in the second half as Taylor shined in the faceoff circle. After Taylor won the draws, Murray took over and scored three times in less than two minutes to put the game away.
"To have a freshman (in Taylor) come in and win that many draws, when anyone can win draws like that it's a huge advantage," Najarian said. "We're really proud of her."
Soon after her fourth goal, Murray exited the game with an ankle injury. The Wreckers have battled injuries to many key parts this spring -- including midfielder Jenna McNicholas -- and in years past.
"We've had bad luck with injuries," Najarian said. "Truthfully I feel if we're 100 percent we can run with most teams in the state. I hope we can get back to 100 percent by postseason healthy."
Heisler was also on the injury list after recovering from offseason surgery and missed the first several games this year.
"I've been itching to get back on the field, it feels great to be back out here," Heisler said. "I love this team and we're all really close."
Despite not having its entire arsenal at its disposal, Staples will take a shot at FCIAC favorite Darien on Friday.